Urumqi's Connections With Central Asia

Urumqi's Connections With Central Asia

 Op/Ed By Chris Devonshire-Ellis

As our Silk Road Project team arrive in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, it is pertinent to note the long held the fascination this most Western of Chinese Provinces has held over the exotic-minded businessman. Fabled for its association with the ancient Silk Road and Western legends through the travel exploits of Marco Polo, as well as with Chinese mythology through the epic classic “Journey to the West” mixed together with more recent shades of Britain and Russia playing out their “Great Game.”

Crossing The Caspian - Where Waters Lap Up Against Europe, Russia & Asia

Crossing The Caspian - Where Waters Lap Up Against Europe, Russia & Asia

Op/Ed by Chris Devonshire-Ellis

It remains unknown whether any Chinese official, upon hearing of the One Belt, One Road idea asked the Chinese President Xi Jinping what to call the Caspian Sea part. The Belt refers to the maritime section of the project, encompassing much of South-East Asia then eventually washing up at Piraeus Port in Athens,while the Road follows the overland route -the section the New Silk Road Project team are tackling. One almost wishes for a Pythonesque, Chinese civil servant to have piped up and said "Yes but what about the Caspian? It's not a Road and it's not part of the Belt. Shall we call it the Gusset?" Alas we will never know the answer. 

China's Belt & Road Splits The Caucasus, Says Goodbye To European Eastern Orthodoxy & Hello To Sunni Islam 

China's Belt & Road Splits The Caucasus, Says Goodbye To European Eastern Orthodoxy & Hello To Sunni Islam 

Op/Ed By Chris Devonshire-Ellis

Our team now leave Turkey, heading east, where they have made a quick trip to the Armenian border, before heading north and entering the Caucasus through Western Georgia. From there they will pass through Georgia, across Azerbaijan, heading for Baku on the Caspian Sea. Next stop: Kazakhstan. 

China's Silk Road Sews Up With Turkey's Middle Corridor, Then Into Central Asia And The Middle East  

China's Silk Road Sews Up With Turkey's Middle Corridor, Then Into Central Asia And The Middle East  

Op/Ed by Chris Devonshire-Ellis 

As our New Silk Road Project team leave Europe and head into the near East, they become free of the national constraints sometimes caused by membership of the European Union and to lands where deals done with China are on a decidedly bilateral basis. It will be interesting to note any observations on this leg whether having the EU oversee Chinese infrastructure offers is perceived as a help or a hindrance.

Winners & Losers in the EU’s Digital Connectivity with China and the Belt & Road

Winners & Losers in the EU’s Digital Connectivity with China and the Belt & Road

Op/Ed By Chris Devonshire-Ellis

The digital economy, also known as the internet economy, is based on digital computing technologies, comprising new business models such as e-commerce, cloud computing, and payment services. Technology is functioning as a new engine for the development of new revenue streams and enabler of new business models. With China possessing one billion consumers able to access the digital economy, and the State Government putting into plans to deliver to 95 percent of China within 24 hours by 2020, the opportunities for getting produce both into and out of China and the BRI region as a whole are immense. The digital revolution is impacting on the essential deliverables of the BRI routes – getting product delivered, on time, safely, and securely. This includes not just e-commerce, but also e-customs and e-government. Supporting services will all be managed by e-platforms.

Crossing the River by Feeling the Stones 摸着石头过河 — UK/Chinese shared pragmatism on BRI?

Crossing the River by Feeling the Stones 摸着石头过河 — UK/Chinese shared pragmatism on BRI?

Op/Ed By Rob Krawczyk

“In short, while it is true China dominates Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contracts on many BRI early stage investments — these are with financial returns well below 5% — for the projects with much higher financial returns (real estate, manufacturing, consumer, tourism), China had a minority position behind such countries as Japan, Korea, Singapore, France etc — just as the BRI model was intended to do. Many western — particularly US and European countries remain “stuck” on the 89% win ratio — except no one bothered to explain these are on projects with low financial returns — designed to facilitate economic development for such countries to higher level returns.”

Europe's West-East Belt Road Philosophical Divide

Europe's West-East Belt Road Philosophical Divide

Op/Ed By Chris Devonshire-Ellis 

As our New Silk Road Project team cross Europe, they may start to notice a shift in mentality from West to East. With Brussels lying firmly to the West, yet with the formation by several members of the European Union and China of the “Co-Operation Of China & Central Eastern Europe” http://www.china-ceec.org/eng/ (CEEC, or sometimes the 16+1) the potential for divide has raised alarm bells in Brussels over what they see as overtures by China to divide the EU bloc, possibly in tandem with interference by Moscow.

Brussels, already reeling from the Brexit vote, is coming under increasing stress.

Europe's Democratic Short-Termism Meets China's Long Haul Belt & Road. So Where Are The Opportunities?

Europe's Democratic Short-Termism Meets China's Long Haul Belt & Road. So Where Are The Opportunities?

Op/Ed by Chris Devonshire-Ellis

One of the conundrums our team of adventurers is going to come across on their epic adventure is understanding the apparent ambivalence of the European Union to China's Belt & Road Initiative. Only a handful of EU countries have signed the Chinese MoU proposing co-operation, while many members, including the UK have been downright hostile in rejecting the offer to get onboard.   

The EU Silk Road - Making Sense Of Mixed Political Signals Between London, Rotterdam, Duisburg & Berlin

The EU Silk Road - Making Sense Of Mixed Political Signals Between London, Rotterdam, Duisburg & Berlin

Op/Ed by Chris Devonshire-Ellis 

The initial portion of the route our New Silk Road Project members are taking sees us effectively cross from Western to Eastern Europe, scraping Russian influence from the Soviet Union days as they finish this leg in Berlin. 

Yet China's commercial interests run deep and not without controversy along this part of the journey. Barking, in appropriately enough east London, was the end point for last years initial Yiwu Express train, bringing, according to the somewhat hapless, yet admirably exuberant Barking and Dagenham Council, "A sign of Barking and Dagenham being at the epicenter of the capital’s eastward shift. You could say it’s the rising east meets the Far East.”  Chinese officials in Yiwu must have been sure to place Dagenham on their tourist maps after that accolade.